Euro 7 Emission Standards: European Parliament’s Decision Amid Stakeholder Disagreement

Environment - April 2, 2024

On Wednesday, March 13th, the European Parliament reached an accord on new EU legislation to to tackle emissions from road transport. The vote ended with 297 votes in favor, 190 against and 37 abstentions. In doing so, the European Parliament approved the agreement previously made with the EU Council on the Euro 7 regulation, that vehicles will have to follow the new requirements for a much longer period of time, guaranteeing that they will remain environmentally friendly throughout their lifecycle. The approbation of these new measures has become a controversial topic among contributors, since stakeholders remain divided on whether this new legislation goes, either too far on the one hand, or not far enough, in battling emissions.

The text was passed after undergoing significant reductions from its initial draft, since lawmakers have stated that by installing stricter vehicle emissions standards, a raise car prices would be noticed, making them more expensive for consumers and deterring investments, which are crucial towards the advancement of electric vehicle development. The main points of the Euro 7 legislation are the following. On the first place it maintains the Euro 6 stablished standards for cars and vans. Regarding buses and trucks, this new legislation applies stricter limits, both in laboratories and in actual driving circumstances. But also, it will implement new measures, such as brake particles emissions limits (PM10) for cars and vans, specific minimum battery performance requirements for the longevity of batteries for both EV and HEV cars. As well as an Environmental Vehicle Passport, which shall contain data on their environmental record at the time of registration. With this, vehicle owners will have easy access to updated data on fuel economy, battery condition, emissions and other relevant data generated by onboard equipment and monitors.

Now, regarding the discussion between MPE’s, Alexandr Vondra from the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), alleged before stating his vote the following: “As a parliamentary rapporteur, I strongly [opposed] the Commission’s initial draft,” especially in view of the potential impact that this new regulation could have at both industrial and consumer level.. In this regard, it is worth recalling that the automotive sector and its entire value chain accounts for 8% of the EU’s GDP, and 6% of all jobs, employing 13 million people. Beyond industry, as Vondra points out, the impact of excessive restrictions would directly affect consumers, especially those on lower incomes, who would be excluded from the option of buying cars with increasingly higher production costs due to new environmental requirements.

In his statement, Vodnra also added that it is essential to find the right equilibrium between the interests of environmental organizations, the industry and the social concerns, stating that the agreement reflects reasonable measures, by keeping emission limits for private cars at the same level as those already set in the Euro 6 regulation, but introducing for example stricter limits for bus emissions in this revised version of Euro 7.

However, Anna Krajinska, Director of Vehicle Emissions and Air Quality at Transport and Environment (T&E), an enviromental organisation, shared with European news source Euroactiv her perspective on the matter, which is the exact opposite of Alexandr Vondra’s point of view. According to Krajinska, the environmental benefit resulting from this rule will be almost non-existent. For the manager of this organisation, the reduction in other emissions will not be enough to compensate for the”weakness” of the other parts of the agreement.

On this topic, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) shared a communication, expressing their perspective on the main conclusions obtained from the Euro 7 regulation, agreeing with European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) parliament group member, Alexandr Vondra, ensuring that this new measure is considerably more rigorous in terms of exhaust emissions standards for buses and trucks.

The automotive sector represents one of the pillars of European industry, and any decision on changes or measures related to this sector must be made with this in mind. All actors agree on the need to move towards a more sustainable future with fewer emissions, but these advances towards a more sustainable industry must be made with common sense and an understanding of the timescales required to make changes in such a far-reaching industry.